I'm Not a Meme, I'm a Human Being
Many people debate what makes something defensive. Is it the perception of the audience seeing the offense, or, is it the feeling you get when you are viewing something, that what you're seeing is morally wrong? It simply comes down to the this: something offensive is the act of one human choosing to degrade another.
There are many offensive things out there- people degrade others for the color of their skin, their gender, their sexuality, their religion, etc. One that seems to get less attention than the rest is the degradation of people with "disabilities," specifically Down syndrome. Thankfully there have been movements over the last 10 years that have worked to end a lot of prejudices against people with "disabilities," bringing more and more acceptance from society, but their work is outnumbered by the abundance of cruelty. Social media plays a large hand in spreading the plight of others, and its the main outlet for the degradation of people with Down syndrome and other "disabilities."
People use the anonymity of the computer screen to badger and degrade others, making and sharing memes, using pictures of people who have Down Syndrome, and other "disabilities," as the punchline of their jokes. A meme is a photo that has been edited to include a layer of text over it to make a joke, usually one to make fun of someone or something. Once a meme is generated and posted online, it can be shared millions of times by a few simple clicks of the mouse, and it never truly goes away. Almost every person who shares degrading memes, often claim they have done nothing wrong since didn't create the image, they just shared it for laughs. What these people don't understand, is that that is the same as standing by as one person bullies another person, laughing at the victim’s misery and embarrassment, and walking away. If you confront these people, you will see that deep down, they know their actions are wrong, since their initial response to you will be an attempt to defend their actions. They will likely tell you that you lack a sense of humor for not laughing at the offensive image or act, that there is something wrong with you, or for you to “just keep scrolling” if you don’t approve of their post.
In this era where our society is banding together to expunge the n-word and the r-word from common use, I say that we move together to nullify the sharing of memes and posts that use people who have Down syndrome, and other "disabilities," for the punchlines. People with Down Syndrome, and other "disabilities," already have to work harder than people without any "disabilities" to overcome stereotypes every day. By passively allowing social media to perpetuate these memes, we are telling the world that people with Down Syndrome, and other "disabilities," are not equal human beings to those without any "disability-" we are encouraging the genocide, mistreatment, and discrimination of people with Down syndrome, and other "disabilities," that already goes unnoticed by most.
Our society works to eliminate the use of the n-word because we recognize that although it was once used to refer to black people, it was and is degrading, and has no place in our language outside serving as an example of our infamous history. Our society is slowly beginning to eliminate the r-word because we are recognizing that although it was once used to refer to people with "disabilities," it was and is degrading, and has no place in our language outside serving as an example of our infamous history. The making and sharing of memes and posts that feature people with Down Syndrome, and other "disabilities," as the punchlines, should some day only serve as an example of our infamous history as well. We need to stand up for people with Down Syndrome, and other "disabilities," and end the making and use of these memes! I'm an ambassador for Save Down Syndrome, and I am starting a campaign to do exactly that. Follow us on Instagram @imnotamememovement, and use the hashtag #imnotameme to join to movement! Together, we can make sure society finally declares that these memes are unacceptable.